Review Summary: As much swagger as Taylor Swift, as sensual as Alanis Morisette all while making it look as easy as Madonna. The scary thing is this might not be the best she's able to doOh she's Sweet but a Psycho...
blares on Z100 New York. This isn't your typical pop song though. Listen once and you'll crave more.
Ava Max may have been influenced by such artists as Sia
and Lady Gaga
, although she has a sound all her own. Moving and powerful yet beautifully compelling and sensual, one gets the feeling she was destined to be famous. Max (born Amanda Koci February 16 1994) was raised in Virginia but moved to Los Angeles at 14 to pursue a career in music. She signed to Atlantic Records in 2016, and although she has released several singles, this is her first album. And Heaven and Hell
's a concept album. The first 7 tracks represent Heaven and the last 7 Hell, with 'Torn' in between.
While one gets the impression she has more fun recording the back half of the album, the first half sets quite a seductive and alluring pace. Standout 'Born to the Night' borrows a beat from the Peter Schilling
hit 'Major Tom' yet within seconds, one hears Ava singing seductively about a life lived in the middle of the night. 'Naked', a beautifully sweet track, and 'Tattoo' give us our first impression of Ava the heartthrob, both playfully show her willing to feel a bit vulnerable in front of our eyes. A little bit later, 'Call Me Tonight' seduces. She seemingly reintroduces herself as an impossibly smooth woman who's been able to land any man she wants whenever she wants and flirt / smooth talk her way into any scene: slip, slippin on my Versace, New York party
In between Heaven and Hell, 'Torn' shows kickass Ava on full display, a theme that's continued in the dramatic 'Take You to Hell': If you're gonna treat me right, I'll take you to heaven every night, but God forbid you leave me by myself I'll take you to Hell
. And while 'Sweet But Psycho', the contagious tease of a track that's impossible to not enjoy, remains a standout, the flirtatious 'Belladonna' shows her at her most decadent and sultry. The back half of the album's so loaded with top tier tracks that it would be remiss not to mention the adventuresome and playful 'Who's Laughing Now', the contagious yet dancy 'So am I' and the resilient yet sensual 'Salt' individually.
If there's a complaint to be made about the album, it's 'Kings and Queens', the only time it doesn't feel like Ava's in charge of her sound. And because the best songs are mostly jammed in at the end, this is a much better album than many will realize at first. Yet at 26, Ava's made an album so unique and special, winding her way through ecstasy and agony while maintaining such beauty and poise, that she's managed to make an instant classic.